Letters: On speed traps, crime prevention

The Detroit News
Cops should spend more time ticketing reckless drivers for passing on the right or following too close, Kosinski writes.

Rethink speed traps

George Hunter’s article (“Telegraph Road's 'Gardner White cop' and 'speed trap' earn infamy," Dec. 16) embodies the American cliche of law enforcement officers, concealed behind a billboard on a sunny country road, idly waiting, looking for speeders.

The reaction of those caught in the trap is also a familiar tune when they claim money for City Hall is the sole motivation for what they view as an abusive incursion into their daily life. While it is true that laws should remain enforceable without the burden of what are perceived to be social norms (like low-level speeding), what also remains true is that law enforcement picking the “low-hanging fruit” of moderate speeding infractions in the name of safety rings hollow.

When was the last time you heard of anyone getting a ticket for passing on the right, not yielding to faster traffic or following too close? These infractions, mostly associated with faster speeds, happen continuously on every highway in the area. They are clearly much more dangerous than moderate speeding on surface streets, but they receive little enforcement attention. Observing these infractions requires dynamic patrolling, and there is a more difficult burden of proof than a simple radar gun deployed from the sidelines, but safety reaped from this type of enforcement could be measurably positive. It is decades overdue that we revisit the priorities of traffic enforcement and update our normal expectations of driving if what we really want is the safest roads possible.

Stephen Kosinski, Ann Arbor

Crime-fighting potential of after-school programs

I applaud Tonya Adair’s recent piece on the importance of high-quality afterschool programs (“Invest in Wayne County after-school programs," Dec. 6). Those of us in law enforcement have seen the value of these programs first-hand. They can have a major, positive impact on young people’s lives, and they target the time of day when kids are most likely to get mixed up in crime.

In fact, a recent report from the national law-enforcement membership organization Fight Crime: Invest in Kids revealed that juvenile crime in Michigan peaks from 2-6 p.m. on school days, with about 27% of all juvenile crime on those days occurring during the hours following the last school bell.

High-quality after-school programs can help reduce crime and keep kids safe. But research also shows that these programs can boost academic performance, improve behavior, lead to healthier habits, and save taxpayer dollars in the long run.

Yet, not all children who want or need these programs can access them. As Adair noted, providing more opportunities, year-round support, and stable funding for these programs could allow kids to reap the numerous benefits of high-quality after-school options. And, at the same time, that investment will help keep our young people — and our communities — safe.

Benny Napoleon, Wayne County sheriff